Ex-Marussia driver Luiz Razia looking at IndyCar seat in 2014?

Leave a comment

Luiz Razia appeared ready to ascend to Formula One last winter but was unable to hold onto his ride at Marussia (pictured) due to sponsorship issues. Now the Brazilian driver may be looking at the IndyCar Series instead.

While also mentioning the DTM touring car series as another possibility, Razia recently told French site SportAuto that he has the agent of former Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran talking to IndyCar teams about a potential program in 2014.

After serving as a test driver for Virgin Racing (now Marussia) in 2010 and Team Lotus (now Caterham) in 2011, Razia finished second in the 2012 GP2 championship and signed with Marussia this past February.

But the aforementioned funding problems forced Marussia to terminate its contract with him, and the team wound up replacing him with Jules Bianchi, who put together a quietly impressive first season despite having little time to get used to the team and its car. With his F1 hopes dashed, Razia kept busy this season in the International GT Open sports car series.

Razia has also taken time to share his two cents on Toro Rosso’s decision to pass over Antonio Felix da Costa in favor of 19-year-old Russian driver Daniil Kvyat for a 2014 race seat in F1.

da Costa has landed a test role with World Champions Red Bull instead, but Razia still believes that da Costa should have gotten the Toro Rosso seat.

“The strange thing is not the fact that [Kvyat] is coming from GP3,” he said to Brazilian publication TotalRace. “A driver can demonstrate his talent in many categories. What I’m saying it that there is a loss of momentum.”

Razia also noted da Costa’s competitiveness in Formula Renault 3.5 this past year; he earned three wins and wound up third in the championship behind winner Kevin Magnussen (who is now preparing for his rookie F1 campaign with McLaren) and Stoffel Vandoorne.

While admitting that he is “the devil’s advocate” as he is a friend of da Costa’s, Razia feels other factors were at play in Kvyat’s promotion such as a need to have a Russian on the grid for the country’s inaugural Grand Prix this coming season at Sochi.

“[F1] is a very political category, and [Kvyat] is even sponsored by a Russian bank,” he said. “Toro Rosso has difficulties, as everyone does, so it was a situation where everything fell into place for him.”

F1 Preview: 2018 Australian Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

Save for two occasions, in 2006, and 2010, the Australian Grand Prix has served as the season-opening event for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 1996, and this weekend’s event will be the 21st time that the city of Melbourne has kicked off the Formula 1 campaign.

The 2018 season is the fifth one of the current hybrid power unit era, the second season of the current aero regulations, and the second under Liberty Media’s guidance.

Last year saw titans Mercedes AMG Petronas and Scuderia Ferrari duel for supremacy for most of the season before Mercedes distanced Ferrari late in the season to take the constructor’s title and the driver’s title, with Lewis Hamilton, who is now tied with Sebastian Vettel on four world championships apiece.

Four drivers on the grid have Formula 1 world championships to their name: Hamilton, Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso. Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also has a world championship to his name as a two-time titlist in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

So, what can viewers expect from the 2018 curtain-raiser in Australia? A handful of things to watch are below?

2018 Australian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Does Anyone Have Anything for Mercedes?

Only on one day during pre-season testing did a Mercedes driver lead the way – Lewis Hamilton was fastest on the final day of Week 1 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

However, all indications were that was by design, with the team focusing the majority of the second week, if not the entire second week, on long runs with their W09 EQ Power+ chassis.

Such a decision is an ominous one, in that it indicates the team is very comfortable with the amount of speed in the car and did not see a need, or desire, to show their hand during testing.

With that in mind, the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas may yet again have the best and fastest cars, and the team looks poised to potentially make it five constructor’s and driver’s championships in a row.

Ferrari and Red Bull Look to End Mercedes Reign

The biggest threats to Mercedes are undoubtedly Ferrari and Red Bull, the only other teams to win in 2017.

And both teams displayed a lot of pace during testing, particularly in the “one-lap speed” category. Ricciardo set a lap record around the Catalunya circuit during the second week, only for Vettel to supplant that mark later in the week. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen led the way during the final day of testing.

It is unknown how that pace will translate over the course of a race distance. Mercedes appeared to have an edge on both Ferrari and Red Bull over long runs and race simulations, but there is also a theory that neither Ferrari nor Red Bull had their true long-run form on display.

Still, if a team is going to knock off Mercedes, it will likely be either Ferrari or Red Bull.

McLaren on the Rebound?

Put simply, the previous three seasons for McLaren F1 Team were a bit of a disaster. Their partnership with Honda yielded point totals of 27 (2015), 76 (2016), and 30 (2017) in a three-year venture that was defined by poor reliability and underwhelming power.

The relationship hit a boiling point last year and both entities parted ways ahead of the 2018 season, with McLaren signing a new power unit deal with Renault.

Testing went better than in previous years, though the team continued to battle reliability problems. However, all issues appeared to be minor, needling issues rather than more significant, foundational problems, as the other Renault teams (Red Bull and Renault Sport F1 Team) had solid runs with few reliability issues.

The car does appear to have speed in it, so if the reliability problems are behind them, McLaren could be in for a rebound season.

Stuck in the Midfield Again

Formula 1’s battle amongst the midfield is set to be as fierce as ever as a host of a several teams have a chance at being “best of the rest.”

Sahara Force India has been the frontrunner from the the midfield teams each of the last two years, finishing fourth in the constructor’s title in both 2016 and 2017, though if the steady conflict between drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez continues through 2018, it could hamper their efforts significantly.

Renault Sport F1 Team and Haas F1 Team look to improve on their 2017 form, while Toro Rosso is in a new partnership with Honda power units…and has experienced a surprisingly smooth pre-season as Honda’s 2018 platform looks significantly better, with the team enjoying a solid run of testing with few, if any, reliability problems.

Williams Martini Racing and Alfa Romeo Sauber appear to be at the back of the pack entering the season, but both could battle for points finishes if those ahead of them falter.